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Select Portables Store, Play Authorized Music Downloads

9/16/2002 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Authorized online distributors of Pressplay's subscription-based music-download and music-streaming service have begun to support transfers of downloaded music to Internet audio portables, but the selection of supporting portables is still relatively thin.

For its part, Liquid Audio said it has increased the selection of authorized downloadable music that can be transferred to portables.

Pressplay, owned by Sony and Universal, makes music available through such sites as Yahoo!, MSN and MP3.com. Liquid Audio makes music available through bestbuy.com, Compact Disc World's clubcd.com, Face The Music's facethe.com, waterloosrecords.com, and Liquid's own site.

The Pressplay sites support transfers to select portables that support Windows Media Audio's codec and the WMA digital-rights management (DRM) technology, but not all WMA-codec-compatible devices support the WMA DRM. Pressplay also supports devices based on Sony's ATRAC3 compression codec wrapped in the WMA DRM.

Pressplay-compatible devices, according to Pressplay and CE companies, include — but aren't limited to — three SONICblue models, two Nike models, two Compaq iPAQ models, five Sanyo models, seven Creative Labs models, and seven Sony models: five NetMD MiniDisc portables and two flash-memory-based Network Walkman portables.

In addition, Panasonic said its current-generation solid-state portables support the WMA codec, and although they don't use the WMA DRM, the company claimed they use a compatible DRM system called CPRM (content protection for recordable media), developed by the 4C group of companies. Details were unavailable.

As for hard-drive portables, marketers said they could be upgraded to support the WMA codec and DRM if the upgrade is supplied by the portable's manufacturer.

RCA said it has no plans for now to support Pressplay.

The Liquid-powered sites upload music in the Liquid and WMA formats, but only one portable device in the United States — a Sanyo model — currently supports Liquid's format, which is Dolby's AAC wrapped in Liquid's DRM technology, Liquid told TWICE.

In August, Liquid added BMG-licensed music to its platform and allowed for transfers of BMG music to Liquid- and WMA-equipped portables, a Liquid spokeswoman said. Burning BMG titles to disc isn't allowed. Warner and EMI songs can also be transferred in either format to portables, and EMI adds burning privileges. All of Liquid's independent-label partners, however, allow burning and transfers. Liquid's partners offer more than 200,000 authorized songs.

MusicNet said an announcement on allowing transfers will be made by the end of the year. That service is owned by Warner, EMI, and BMG and delivered to consumers via Web retailers.